Pay 2024: Unite members vote for strike action

Ballot results: Unite returns strike mandates in 16 councils across Scotland

Read all posts about the current pay dispute for details of the pay claim, the offer on the table and more.

Yesterday (1 July) the strike ballot for Waste and Cleansing members closed, returning a mandate for industrial action in 16 councils across Scotland. GMB’s ballot returned a mandate in 13 councils. Unison’s ballot will close on 17 July.

The result sends the message to COSLA and the Scottish Government loud and clear—council workers are ready to fight for fair pay. COSLA call the current offer on the table—2.2% for 6-months then a 2% rise for the next 12-months—a “strong offer”. This is in the context of council worker pay being devalued by thousands of pounds over the past 15 years.

Brian Robertson, branch secretary, explained the dispute to the BBC:

It’s about local government pay for the whole of Scotland. 

These brave workers will be coming out on strike, losing wages, unless the Scottish government comes to the table and we can negotiate with them and with Cosla to get a decent pay rise for all local government workers in Scotland.

We do not want to do it. We don’t want to make a mess of the festival – we made a mess of it two years ago. 

We want the Scottish government to come to the table before we have to do it.

The vast majority of local government workers earn far less than the median wage in this city – many of them are working on less than £20,000 a year.

Bin collectors to go on strike during Edinburgh Festival‘ on BBC News.

What councils have a mandate?

The councils where Unite have a mandate to strike are:

  1. Aberdeen City Council
  2. Angus Council
  3. The City of Edinburgh Council
  4. Dumfries and Galloway Council
  5. Dundee City Council
  6. East Ayrshire Council
  7. East Renfrewshire Council
  8. Fife Council
  9. Glasgow City Council
  10. Inverclyde Council
  11. North Ayrshire Council
  12. North Lanarkshire Council
  13. Renfrewshire Council
  14. South Ayrshire Council
  15. The Highland Council
  16. West Lothian Council

GMB returned a strike mandate in:

  1. Aberdeen
  2. Aberdeenshire
  3. East Ayrshire
  4. East Dunbartonshire
  5. Edinburgh
  6. Fife
  7. Inverclyde
  8. Midlothian
  9. North Lanarkshire
  10. Orkney Islands
  11. Perth and Kinross
  12. South Lanarkshire
  13. Stirling.

In Edinburgh

82% of members working in Waste and Cleansing, including Public Conveniences, in Edinburgh voted to take strike action to fight for a fair pay rise for council workers. This will see over 450 members down tools over the summer.

The strike ballot for members in Edinburgh working in Fleet Services closes on 4 July. Across the country other councils are balloting other services.

What now?

We await a response from COSLA.

The Scottish Government must come to the table to fund a fair pay deal. This is not a local issue—the solution must come from Holyrood. Councils have been criminally underfunded for well over a decade now, leading to cuts in services, jobs and pay. Graeme Smith, branch convener, recently spoke to Edinburgh Live on the looming £30m budget deficit in Edinburgh:

We’re at the point where any cut is going to harm workers and communities and the only way around that is by Holyrood properly funding local government.

The STUC’s paper Raising Taxes to Deliver for Scotland explains how the Scottish Government could raise the funds needed using the powers it has now. It’s time for the Scottish Government to fund local government so workers get a fair pay deal.

Unions must give 14 days notice of strike action.

We will post updates here as they happen.

Get strike ready!

Strikers, read our guide for when you are on strike explaining what to expect and things to consider.

Colleagues, read our guide to when others are on strike for what to expect, what impact it may have on you and how you can support your striking colleagues who are fighting for your wages.

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